Tuesday, April 08, 2008

TOP STORY > > New contract in works for base housing

Leader senior staff writer

Details must be worked out, but in place of failed developer American Eagle Communities, the award-winning Hunt-Pinnacle Group apparently will complete the military housing privatization projects at Little Rock Air Force Base and three other Air Force bases, the Air Force announced Monday.

Hunt-Pinnacle, American Eagle and the Air Force all signed a letter of intent last week laying out the parameters of the remaining negotiations, although technically the Air Force is not a party to the negotiations.

Hunt-Pinnacle, which won the 2007 Air Force Professional Housing Management Association Award for best installation team for its work at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, has built and manages tens of thousands of such units for the military.

That’s good news for the airmen, dependents and the unpaid contractors and suppliers left in the lurch when the Carabetta Group and Shaw Infrastructure, doing business as American Eagle Communities, walked away last year from their contracts to build and remodel several thousand homes on Little Rock AFB, Moody, Patrick and Hanscom Air Force bases.

“I was at Scott Air Force Base when (Hunt-Pinnacle) was working there,” said Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz on Tuesday. “They have a good reputation, and I’m satisfied that they will do a good job for us.” The general is commander of Little Rock Air Force Base.

American Eagle Communities completed only about 25 of the 1,200 new and remodeled housing units it contracted to build, own and manage at Little Rock AFB and failed similarly at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, Hanscom in Maryland and Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.

At the end of three years, Carabetta was two years behind on the Little Rock AFB contract, according to the Air Force.

Hunt Pinnacle—that’s the Hunt Development Group of El Paso, Texas, and Pinnacle Management of Seattle — last week signed a letter of intent with American Eagle Communities, outlining the issues yet to be resolved in the sale of the contract en route to concluding the deal.

The Air Force will not decide whether the Carabetta organization can bid on future government contracts until negotiations are settled and a new developer is in place to build and manage housing at four Air Force bases where Carabetta failed to fulfill its contracts, according to the general.

Schatz said last week he hoped negotiations would be concluded by October and construction and remodeling could begin in the spring of 2009.

Pinnacle has completed five privatized military-family housing projects totaling 11,485 units with development costs in excess of $1.6 billion within the past five years. Pinnacle is the largest third-party fee-management company, managing a $12.5 billion portfolio of properties in 42 states, including 22,000 military family homes.

The Hunt Development Group is 60 years old, according to information on its Web site. It has completed 170 projects for the Department of Defense, including 10 military-housing privatization projects and is working on 14 others.

It has constructed or rehabilitated 69,000 units of military housing.